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EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS Personal Research Emergence and Growth of Knowledge and Diversity.

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Presentation on theme: "EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS Personal Research Emergence and Growth of Knowledge and Diversity."— Presentation transcript:

1 EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS Personal Research Emergence and Growth of Knowledge and Diversity in Hierarchically Complex Living Systems: Genesis of a theoretical framework William P. Hall Head Office / Engineering Tenix Defence, Williamstown Visiting Faculty Associate University of Technology Sydney National Fellow Australian Centre for Science, Innovation and Society - University of Melbourne

2 Personal Research Origins Work traces from a profound mismatch between my ideas regarding the nature of enterprises and their knowledge –I'm an evolutionary biologist by training (PhD Harvard, 1973) EE Williams, Ernst Mayr, SJ Gould, EO Wilson, JD Watson, M. Meselson, etc. Research in early life, genetic systems, speciation and differentiation For 25 years I have been computerizing knowledge in organizations –I started a book in 2000 on the co-evolution of human cognition and our cognitive tools at personal and organizational levels Application Holy Wars: A Fugue on the Theory of Knowledge Project halted due to a mismatch between org literature and my ideas Solution re-formulates org theory and KM on evolutionary principles Reformulation now well underway with peer-reviewed published papers Current paper bridges the gaps between the reformulation of org theory and idea roots in cellular and organismic evolutionary biology –To make the story coherent requires reinventing the theory of life itself theory of self-organizing hierarchically complex dissipative systems evolutionary epistemology autopoiesis

3 Personal Research Key ideas (1) Complex = incalculable? / computationally irreducible dynamics(?) Complexity can exist at many hierarchical scales The selected focal level in a dynamic and hierarchically complex world determines a triad for analysis (Simon, Pattee, Salthe, Gould) –The two-faced holon or system of interest at the focal level –The smaller, faster components and subsystems forming the holon at the next lower level –The larger, slower supersystem forming the holon's environment Thermodynamics in complex environments drives dissipative systems conducting energy from source to sink to evolve complex "convection" systems (Prigogine, Morowitz, Odum, Kay, Schneider) Selective dis-integration of unstable systems favours convection systems with self-stabilising feedback loops (various) Survival perpetuates the dynamic structures of successful solutions to problems (truism)

4 Personal Research Key ideas (2) Autopoiesis defines a set of integrated properties that a complex system must have to be considered to be living (Maturana & Varela) –Self-identifiably bounded –Individually identifiable components within the boundary –Dynamically mechanistic –System boundaries internally determined –System intrinsically produces own components –Self-produced components produce the system Evolutionary epistemology (Karl Popper, Donald Campbell) –Knowledge = solutions to problems of life –Knowledge is constructed - impossible to deductively prove a belief about reality is true (or false) –Knowledge of reality improves through speculation, test and error elimination (Popper); blind variation & selective retention (Campbell)

5 Personal Research Key ideas (3) Ontological domains (Popper - my interpretation) –World 1 - dynamic physical reality that life learns about –World 2 - computationally irreducible(?) solutions to problems of life embodied in the historically derived dispositions and dynamic structures of surviving autopoietic systems - corresponds to Polanyi's tacit knowledge –World 3 - encoded solutions to problems of life DNA Trails, pheromones Linguistic expression, books, media –[World 3'/World 4? Constructs, tools, nests, architecture, cities] Epistemic cuts (Pattee, Rocha, Hoffmeyer, Emmeche) –The difference between reality and knowledge of reality –Cut 1 - World 2 from world 1 –Cut 2 - World 3 from world 2

6 Personal Research Emergence of knowledge Cognition is the cybernetics of autopoiesis (Maturana) Emergence = establishment of a complex system at a new level in the hierarchy between two pre existing levels of complexity (Salthe) Early autopoietic systems emerge close to thermodynamic equilibrium between coalescence/disintegration (Kauffman) –Autopoietic systems produce components that are favourable to autopoiesis –Dissipating systems lose history, but return components to the environment that have previously worked in autopoietic systems Knowledge of autopoiesis is inherent in the environment, thus shared promiscuously Promiscuity impedes specialisation because random components need to work together –Early reproduction requires only growth and fragmentation - where fragments would retain some of the parent's history Selection for self-stabilization evolves towards clonal reproduction away from equilibrium, and preserves structural history that worked Knowledge defines the nature and behaviour of the autopoietic system Meaning = knowledge embodied in dynamic structure Knowledge = heredity and is the historically accumulated control 'information' of autopoietic cybernetics that regulates problem responses

7 Personal Research Emergent orders of autopoietic complexity Presence of autopoietic system self-defines a level of complexity 1st order triad –Holonic level = living cell (1 O ' = endosymbiotic cellular organization) –Subsystems/components = macromolecules –Supersystem/environment = medium in trophically dynamic ecosystem 2nd order triad –Holonic level = multicellular organism (1 O ' = colonial "superorganism") –Subsystems/components = living cells –Supersystem/environment = medium in trophically dynamic ecosystem 3rd order triad –Holonic level = society of organisms (ants, bees, termites) –Subsystems/components = multicellular organisms –Supersystems/environment = medium in trophically dynamic ecosystem 3rd order triad –Holonic level = human economic organization –Subsystems/components = entities with linguistic capabilities –Supersystems/components = products in dynamic economy

8 Personal Research Reproduction, sex, and diversification (1) World 2 knowledge transmitted by the division of pre-existing dynamic structure –inescapable consequence of autopoiesis –entails some loss of computationally irreducible structure –depends on what parts of structure passed on Emergence of world 3 knowledge depends on evolution of codification systems –Autocatalytic nucleic acid polymers in emergence of first order autopoiesis. Nucleic acid polymers may have enzymatic and/or structural fns Autoreplication of polymer replicates associated functions RNAs retain structural & enzymatic functions to apply control info DNAs codified control information into "genes" –Selective advantages for grouping genes into chromosomes Accurate replication Controlled segregation into daughter cells

9 Personal Research Reproduction, sex, and diversification (2) Clonal reproduction in prokaryotes –Clonal evol & differentiation of coadapted snippets in lineages –Advantage: Protected accuracy of existing world 3 knowledge –Disadvantage: Reduced ability to recombine tested knowledge from different sources in one lineage Sexual recombination totally separate from reproduction –Transformation (naked DNA absorbed from environment) –Transduction (viral transfer) –Conjugation (transfer of plasmid DNA via cell bridge) –Recognition of related & rejection of unrelated DNA sequences –Pairing & crossing over of homologous DNA Eukaryote DNA well isolated from external exchanges Choreographed cell & nuclear fusion –Choreographed recombination and assortment –Specialised knowledge allows emergence of biological speciation and gene pools as evolutionary entities

10 Personal Research Knowledge in higher order autopoiesis (1) Second order systems (multicellular organisms) –Clonal budding and alternation of generations common in lower orgs –W2 knowledge transmitted via structure of egg cell Learning reflected in structural connections of neurones and other aspects of dispositional structure (physiological adaptation) Most dispositional (somatic) learning cannot be transferred via sexual reproduction –Extended parental care can transfer some W2 knowledge via demonstration and copying –W3 knowledge in DNA All cells have same DNA Some DNA is control info for cell differentiation and development Only evolves via blind variation and selective elimination of carriers –W3 knowledge in extrasomatic heritage Evolution of semiotic/linguistic transfers Encoded objects

11 Personal Research Knowledge in higher order autopoiesis (2) Third order systems (societies, organizations) –Pubs: Hall 2003, 2005; Else 2004; Hall et al. 2005; Nousala et al, 2005; Dalmaris et al. in press –W2 knowledge social network structure layout and capabilities of plant and machinery tacit organizational routines tacit personal knowledge cultural dynamics –W3 knowledge part of DNA at level of individual organisms encoded adaptations for social behaviours pheromonal trails, published inducements, etc. records and documents of organizational significance explicitly defined processes and procedures

12 Personal Research The author's background Entered Uni Majored in physics for 3 yrs / failed BS in Biology 1964 (ecology and animal behavior) Taught biology 2 years at a new uni with a new MS program PhD in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard ( ) Taught biology for 4 years - Univ. Puerto Rico, Colorado (Hands on with all generations of computer systems) University Melb Res Fellow 77-79, genetics, epistemology 1 year teaching Uni Maryland before return to Australia Taught computer literacy Documentation Mgr small software house IS Documentation Mgr Bank of Melbourne 90- Tenix Defence variety of documentation & KM roles

13 Personal Research Timeline: Incubation 1960 Consequences of exponential growth on a finite planet Biophysics - sensory & dev. physiology research (res. asst.) Odum's ecosystem trophic dynamics (course & hons. research) 1963 Discovered correlation of chromosome and species diversity in Sceloporus lizards (course research) Planning & teaching range of integrative biology courses Discovered endosymbiotic origins eukaryote cells Comparative population cytogenetics, speciation, and evolution of the iguanid lizard genus Sceloporus (PhD thesis work) –heredity, systematics, cladistics and analysis of evolutionary systems First round application of Popper and Kuhn's thinking to evolutionary biology (see Hall 1983) –app. statistical signal averaging to logic of scientific discovery 1981  personal computing, business documentation production, analysis and management; business process analysis; organisational KM

14 Personal Research Timeline: Prob. identification & theory dev't 1998 Ian Combe's work 2000 John Boyd's work; paradigmatic issues in flame wars re use of cognitive tools in org. documentation and technical writing world Late Began hypertext: Application Holy Wars or a New Reformation: A Fugue on the Theory of Knowledge 2001 Encountered Michael Polanyi's epistemology 2002 Encountered fundamental paradigmatic issues between my understanding of org theory and cognition and the rest of world –Required access to research library to study issues –Negotiated hon. fellowship via Monash Uni KM Lab (Frada Burstein) 2002 Encountered Maturana and Varela's work –Decision to reinvent organization and KM theory via series of papers, student training 2004 Encountered Salthe's work on hierarchy theory  Pattee et al. Mid 2005 Monash Uni ended hon. fellowship (no Tenix money gained) 2006 UniMelb, UTS honorary access, 3 PhD's finished, more???

15 Personal Research What next? Cog science to fill the gap between genetic & org knowledge Seeking new students –Biology, cog science (no funds, more than happy to advise) –Possible "KM Intern" positions within Tenix (probably unfunded) Several potential collaborators already identified: Aus, EU, USA Continuing problem –Employer is a high tech defence project management company To now, they have been very cooperative where my time is concerned Don't fully understand KM, let alone fundamental research Where is their return on their investment in my time? –$0.00 grant funding and I am not independently wealthy –Have 70+ days accumulated long-service leave Desperately need hot-desk & bookshelf space with broadband net access where I can focus on completing planned papers Prefer accessibility major uni library and train (for commuting) Prefer to use leave on a part-time basis (say 2-3 days/week) –Ideally seek grant money to buy more time from Tenix


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